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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

TAP - Voar nas Asas da História

TAP - Wings of History

Junho | June 2017

Transportes Aéreos Portugueses

No início da noite propõem-me trocar os meus próximos voos de médio curso por uma rotação de longo dando uma curta lista de destinos entre os quais poderia escolher - terminam com um sempre apetecível Miami. Mas foi Belo Horizonte que me chamou à atenção e que me deixou com os olhos a brilhar! Pergunto de seguida: podia-me confirmar que o avião programado para Confins é o "Oscar Victor"? É sim, André! Então fico com o Belo Horizonte, respondi de imediato. Provavelmente a minha pergunta deve ter soado um pouco estranho pois ninguém escolhe destinos com base em matrículas de aviões!
Assim que desligo o telefone começo a ficar radiante, ainda sem acreditar na oportunidade que tinha acabado de agarrar. Muito embora sempre pensando que - tantas foram as falsas partidas da estreia do CS-TOV - até à manhã seguinte tudo ainda poderia mudar.
Already in the evening I was asked to swap my next medium-haul flights for a long-haul rotation and I was given a short list of destinations from which I could choose, ending with an appealing nightstop in Miami. But it was Belo Horizonte that caught my attention. Immediately I tried to confirm if the assigned airplane was "Oscar Victor". Yes it is, they replied. Then I answered: I can take the flight to Belo Horizonte. Probably my question sounded very strange because nobody would choose a certain aircraft over a popular destination, among the crews!
As soon as the call ends, a strong feeling of hapiness started to invade my mind when I realized the unique opportunity that was given to me. Even if I knew that until the very last moment there could be changes to the aircraft flying to Belo Horizonte the next morning.

Sou da geração "Air Portugal" pois nasci nos anos 80, mas tenho ainda presente na memória o phase-out prolongado dos "Transportes Aéreos Portugueses" e de conviver com essa imagem em diversos suportes gráficos. Sou filho da companhia que tem a minha admiração há 35 anos e a minha dedicação desde 2008. É um orgulho que não se consegue explicar. O poder estar presente no voo de estreia do novo retrojet, por muito irrelevante que possa parecer para outros, seria sempre um marco na minha carreira! Rapidamente janto, arrumo as minhas malas e vou dormir. Antes de me deitar verifico uma vez mais que o avião se mantém: tudo OK.
Acordo cedo às 6:15 e a minha primeira ação é novamente confirmar a matrícula do voo: começo a acreditar que de facto é desta que a estreia se concretiza e que a troca valeu a pena!
I was born in the early 80s, so I belong to the "Air Portugal" corporate identity generation even if I can recall many things from the prolonged phase-out period of the previous "Transportes Aéreos Portugueses" monogram. I'm an airline brat of TAP which has my admiration and respect for 35 long years and my full dedication since 2008. I'm really proud of it but I'm totally unable to explain it with words. I faced the opportunity of being part of the very first flight of our new retrojet as a remarkable milestone in my own career. Because of the early departure next day, I took a quick dinner, packed my bags and went to sleep. But before going to bed, I checked once more in our system if the aircraft assigned remained CS-TOV: so far, so good.
I woke up at 6:15am and my first action is to confirm again the tail number of my flight. My scepticism was because this would be the very first flight of this aircraft operating for our airline and I knew of some certification delays and false departures the previous days.

Apresento-me invulgarmente cedo no aeroporto para que nada pudesse correr mal. Pico o ponto e o sistema continua a indicar o CS-TOV para o voo. Mantenho o meu ceticismo pois de repente tudo pode mudar. Só mesmo quando já no transporte para o avião vejo aproximar-me daquelas bonitas cores é que acredito definitivamente. Impressionante como brilha!
I reported for duty very early so nothing could go wrong. The system still indicated CS-TOV for the flight but only when our crew shuttle stopped beside those immaculate and shining new colors, it was the moment when I finally believed it was really happening.



Subimos todos as escadas para a porta 1L o que permite apreciar de perto o escudo português encimado pelo nome do nosso país. Nome outrora envergado pelo icónico B747 com matrícula CS-TJA, símbolo de uma grandeza e de uma época dourada que não mais a TAP (e a própria aviação no geral...) logrou repetir.
We boarded via door 1L so we could see in detail the portuguese shield on the nose of the Airbus A330 with the name "PORTUGAL" on its top. The name of our country was given in the past to our first Boeing 747 with tail number CS-TJA, a symbol of greatness and a golden era in aviation that TAP (and most airlines of that time) never repeated again.




Atravessando a executiva ainda intacta da Singapore Airlines, dirijo-me à galley junto às portas 2 onde é dado o segundo briefing do dia. É-nos garantido o tempo necessário para executar com calma os nossos checklists que previsivelmente seriam mais demorados tendo em conta que seria a primeira vez de todos naquele avião e no traço -300 do A330. Tínhamos também a nosso favor o facto de o embarque ser em posição remota o que quase sempre dá uma folga de tempo maior. Ao contrário da executiva, os bancos da classe económica receberam novos estofos com o design mais recente da companhia. Contudo, não existindo economy plus, foram todos revestidos com cabeceiras verdes.
We walked through the entire business class - still intact from Singapore Airlines - towards the galley near doors 2, where we were given the second briefing of the day. We were told to complete our pre-flight checklists without being stressed with the usual time pressure before passengers arrive. For all of us, it was the first time on that aircraft that came from another airline, and also our first time flying the dash -300. So it was important to guarantee that everything was on its place and to acquaint ourselves with the emergency equipment and its location. Because we were parked in a remote position we gained a few more minutes before boarding started. While business class was still intact with Singapore Airlines' pattern, the economy class was given new seat cushions with TAP's most recent design for our new long haul product. Since there is no economy plus on this aircraft (usually marked with red color) all seats were given green headrests.

Top Executive

Economy Class



Em breve (quase) tudo estaria pronto para a nova coqueluche da companhia ganhar vida. O número de reservas prometia encher aquele avião com uma capacidade total de 285 passageiros, trinta dos quais em classe executiva. Devido a algumas dúvidas de última hora sobre a documentação do avião o voo atrasou quase uma hora. Foram minutos de alguma ansiedade da minha parte que contrastou com a invulgar serenidade e alheamento dos passageiros perante o atraso.
Soon, almost everything would be ready for that beautiful plane to gain life. The booking for the flight promised to occupy the majority of those 285 seats, thirty of them in business class. Due to some last minute problems with the aircraft's documentation, our departure was delayed for almost one hour. For me it represented long minutes of anxiety that compared with the unusual indifference of our passengers when having such a long delay.

Mas tudo seria resolvido em tempo útil e assim que é anunciado "portas em armed & crosscheck", o já habitual filme que é um voo começa a desenrolar-se com naturalidade. E foi às 10:37 que passadas tantas décadas, voltou a ganhar asas a pintura dos "Transportes Aéreos Portugueses". Tive de me segurar firme para conter alguma emoção do significado que aquele momento representava para mim, perante a indiferença de todos os passageiros. A maioria não eram portugueses (existiriam dois ou três?) e como tal não se identificavam com a história da companhia e/ou provavelmente nem repararam na pintura retro... Não houve também nem no momento do embarque nem durante o voo qualquer referência ou comemoração daquele voo de estreia. Um voo como qualquer outro, exceto para mim!
Those problems were solved in a timely manner and soon our chief purser announced "doors in armed & crosscheck". Finally, the usual flight sequence starts with everything flowing normally. And it was when my watch marked  10:37am that the "Transportes Aéreos Portugueses" livery took off again after so many years of absence. I had to hold on to myself, trying to contain the emotion of that moment and what it represented to me. But I think I was alone in that moment because most of our passengers were not portuguese and they didn't care about TAP's history or didn't even notice the different livery of the aircraft. Unfortunately, there was no reference to that premiere from the airline. It was like just another regular flight for everybody, except for me!

Descolagem da pista 03 de Lisboa seguida de volta à direita para apontarmos ao Oceano Atlântico seguindo sobre o rio Tejo. Através do óculo de observação da minha estação consigo avistar o meu prédio à beira-rio ao mesmo tempo que aprecio a "Passarola" pintada na face interior da winglet.
We took off from runway 03 of Lisbon Airport, followed by a right turn heading to the Atlantic Ocean over Tagus River. Through my observation window on the right side of the aircraft, I could see the building where I live located near the north riverside at the same time I appreciate the beautiful blue bird known as "passarola" painted on the inner surface of the winglet.

Em relação ao equipamento de cabine, algumas novidades: os flaps dos caixotes do lixo dos lavabos têm pedais o que torna todo o processo de deitar algo fora muito mais higiénico; as galleys estão dotadas de um saca-rolhas fixo com um ar muito pouco ortodoxo (e até intimador!) mas que parecem funcionar bem; e finalmente existe também nas galleys o sistema GWDU sobre o qual, por acaso tinha lido recentemente numa publicação da Airbus e que se não fosse essa feliz coincidência (sem sequer saber que estes aviões da Singapore Airlines o tinham) ficaria uns bons minutos intrigado a olhar para aquilo! Os trash compactors apresentam ainda o logótipo da SIA. Outra coisa boa: muito espaço para arrumação, um conceito em vias de extinção nos aviões!
Regarding the passengers' cabin and galleys, there are a few novelties for us: the waste bins of the toilets have a foot pedal; the galleys are equipped with fixed corkscrews - so strange they are that they look somewhat threatening, although they work pretty good; finally, galleys also have installed the new GWDU (Galley Waste Disposal Unit) about which I had recently read in a special edition about the A330 of the Airbus FAST magazine. If it wasn't that happy coincidence I'm quite sure I would have spent some minutes figuring out what was that! The trash compactors still had the Singapore Airline's bird logo. Lots of stowage and closets always make a crew happy and this airplane has plenty of them.

Toilet waste flap

Foot pedal

Fixed corkscrew

Galley Waste Disposal Unit

GWDU description

Trash compactor

Aft galley

Cabin 'E'

Apesar da novidade e da dificuldade extra que um novo equipamento sempre apresenta pelas diversas diferenças que tem, a adaptação foi rápida e o A330-300 revelou-se um avião bastante fácil para se trabalhar.
Despite being a new aircraft from what we are used to and with all the extra challenges that a different equipment represents, we smoothly adapted and this A330-300 ended to be a very easy airplane to deal with.

"Passarola"

Após 9 horas exatas de um voo absolutamente suave em termos de turbulência, as borrachas tocaram na pista do Aeroporto Tancredo Neves, às 15:37 locais. Conseguimos recuperar uma boa parte do atraso à partida. Sem que quase ninguém tenha notado, fez-se história na TAP ao ser recordada a sua própria História e cumpriu-se um desejo antigo de ver um avião com uma pintura retro.
Após o desembarque de todos e já no terminal, um representante local da TAP mais atento atirou o seguinte: "Que avião bonito, hein?" Qualquer avião da TAP é bonito, principalmente quando estamos longe de casa. Mas este CS-TOV tem indiscutivelmente um brilho especial!
After nine hours of a perfectly smooth flight (Marcel Dassault once said: for an aircraft to fly well, it must be beautiful), the wheels finally touched the runway of "Tancredo Neves Intl Airport" at 15:37 local time. We almost caught up our scheduled time of arrival following a late departure. Without anyone having noticed (I believe...), TAP's history was made in that flight while evoking its own History and a long-awaited wish of seeing a retrojet finally came true.
Already at the terminal, a local TAP ground staff noticed: "What a beautiful airplane, hun?". I totally agreed with him!





O voo de regresso no dia seguinte já foi operado num A330-200 mas à chegada bem cedo a Lisboa, e tendo em conta que o CS-TOV se encontrava estacionado na placa, não quisemos perder a oportunidade de tirar uma fotografia de grupo para a posteridade. Aproveitei para captar mais algumas fotografias deste avião que comemora os 72 anos da TAP e homenageia o nosso país - Portugal. E que orgulho representa!
The return flight was operated by an Airbus A330-200 but upon arrival at Lisbon Airport we saw CS-TOV parked in a remote stand not far away from us. We didn't want to miss the opportunity to take a group photo in front of the airplane that celebrates the 72th anniversary of TAP and pays an important tribute to our nation - Portugal. And I'm really proud of it!


High res photo at Flickr

Saturday, May 27, 2017

CS-TOS cabin in shades of blue

May 2017

So this was another return flight back from New York/JFK on board the Airbus A330-200 with tail number CS-TOS and named "João Vaz Côrte-Real". Before TAP Portugal, it also flew for Emirates, Virgin Australia and Azul. It will be returned to Azul already this year at the same time it will be replaced by one of the four ex-Singapore Airlines A330-300 that are being phased in.

This aircraft is very comfortable for the passengers with a very appealing cabin. For sure I will miss the mood lighting feature and its wonderful shades of blue!

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A330 Cabin









And the rest of the warrior, after another successful transatlantic flight...

CS-TOS: "João Vaz Côrte-Real"

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Cagliari Elmas International Airport

September 2016

This was a rather unusual charter flight we did for an Italian tour operator, flying between Lisbon and Cagliari in Sardegna. Both legs we welcomed on board mainly Italian passengers and elderly people enjoying their retirement. As expected they didn't understand a single word in English so we had to use some kind of unorthodox sign language to establish communication with them!

Even if they were disappointed with the fact we didn't speak Italian (dovrebbe parlare in Italiano), they were all in a good mood and I remember having lots of fun during this flight. For me it was also another pin on the map.

Turnaround time at Elmas Airport

Meridiana MD-80 taxiing in to the gate

APIS displaying the three letter code CAG

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

In the blink of an eye: Brasília

April 2017

I still have to explore Brasília in a more detailed way. But it doesn't seem a friendly city to walk on foot...

Cathedral of Brasília

Stadium Mané Garrincha


Monday, April 10, 2017

Canada - amazing Niagara Falls

March 1991

Toronto was the first big city I visited back in 1991. Everything was so different from what I have seen until that date, that I really can't forget that trip.

The flight TP304 to Toronto, departed from Lisbon and had one stop in Montréal - Mirabel. I'm quite sure we stayed in the aircraft during the turnaround time. I also remember that it was the first time I travelled in Business Class. From TAP archives, the aircraft was the Airbus A310 with tail number CS-TEI. The A310 was still a very recent type in the fleet and it marked a new era in the history of the airline which evolved from a loyal Boeing customer (apart from the L-1011) to an all Airbus fleet.

Between Montreal and Toronto

From Toronto, I remember visiting the amazing CN Tower and having dinner in the revolving 360 Restaurant. I also recall seeing squirrels running free in the backyards of the houses and snowing for the first time, even if it was a very light snowfall.

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Niagara Falls

One of the highlights of the trip was going to the Niagara Falls. We experienced really cold temperatures but for sure it was worth it.
We also went up to the top of the Skylon Tower and enjoyed a wonderful view of the Falls from its observation deck.







Little me pushing the baby stroller

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Pearson Intl

And little me at the airport gate, admiring the TAP's Airbus, before our flight back to Lisboa:



Recently, TAP Portugal announced they will relaunch the route to Toronto this summer which got me really excited!

Friday, April 7, 2017

New York - 432 Park Avenue

April 2017

When I opened the curtains of my room and was surprised with this view...

40th floor - Times Square view

... one strong thought filled my mind: «yes, you cand send me to New York whenever you want»! Well, it is not always this view and not always this hotel... I was also thinking about the old question if I would ever be happy living in Manhattan. New York looks like a "yuge" amusement park. But I don't think anyone wants to live permanently in an amusement park. Anyway, it's nice to be pampered with such a view! And for visiting purposes I have no doubt that New York is my favorite city in the world.

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432 Park Avenue

Since my layover in August 2015 that I was curious about this skyscraper and this time I wanted to see it from a closer point of view and take some photos.








Yuuuge, tremendous, the tallest residential building in the world!... what else can I say? That I couldn't resist and immediately bought a flat with a view even better than that one of the hotel? Later I'll share some photos of it!

Back to Times Square playground...

Times Square panorama

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John dos Passos

It's always nice when you leave an amusement park flying a spaceship! It's an astronaut thing but I'm used to it. CS-TOT was the tail number.

Wing view at JFK Intl Airport






Please send me to New York again, right now!